Re: Sorry don't get it done, Dude*
"Car insurers exist to make a profit - what, just like every other business then? Feel free to set up your own car insurance not-for-profit business if you like, be sure to let us know how you get on."
There are plenty of not-for-profit insurers, search for "mutual insurance", the NFC is one off the top of my head that I've dealt with before. Anyhoo, I've not got a problem with them as a business making money, I was pointing out that your description of insurance as pooling the risk wasn't an entirely accurate description of how many/most current insurance companies operate.
"any extra premium charged to a higher risk group (eg males) can be used to reduce premiums to a lower risk group (eg females)"
And charging people called Smith more could reduce the premiums of people called Jones. Its arbitrary. Many comments imply that females will now be subsidising bad drivers and that isn't fair. But as good male driver I'm currently subsidising them and that is fair?
"There is no doubt that, as regards car insurance, males have more accidents than females. Note that this remains true even if we control for other factors - location, age, experience, etc. So gender is undoubtedly a provable risk factor in car insurance."
No, there is plenty of doubt. To prove it, you need to either control for ALL other factors (and not just those that the insurance company ask about or know to ask about), or prove a causal link between gender and risk (e.g. testicles are more likely to get caught in the brake pedal). You are correct that it IS true that males have more accidents than females, but this may be due to another factor. I.e people have more accidents because of factor X, and more males have factor X than females, and so have more accidents. The correct response to minimise cost to the pool and fairly reflect risk is thus to charge higher premiums to those with factor X, not those who are male. Factor X may not be known or too costly to calculate of course, in which case the correct action isn't to discriminate, but pool the risk across everybody.
The court also concluded the same, that it was not a provable risk to be male, and that is the only basis on which discrimination is allowed. It may be shrewd business planning to maximise profits by doing this, but no other business is allowed to make money by discriminating.
"so is it equally inequitable to charge a 50-year old more for life assurance than a 20-year old (or vice versa if car insurance is the topic)?"
No and yes. Being a 20 year old is like being male in the driving stakes, not directly relevant. Its experience that counts, so experience (e.g. number of years driving, number of miles driven, advanced driver training etc.) not age should be the determining factor. Life assurance is a different beast, it is not a pooling of risk. It is ASSURANCE not INSURANCE. It is essentially gambling with the providers money. But taken on the same "fairness" terms (and assuming that no master race of immortal humans emerges), it is a mathematical certainty that each day older we get the higher the probability of dying becomes, tending towards 1,with all else being equal. So I would say it is fair to make it a factor.